AONTAS members lead the way in tackling poverty and social exclusion via partnership and collaboration

24 Sep 2020
Each Wednesday, AONTAS members meet for a membership update and engagement webinar. This blog post shares some key takeaway points from our 20th webinar in which Clare Local Development Company, an AONTAS member organisation, shared a presentation highlighting SICAP (Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme) in Co Clare. Their input focussed on how they have continued to deliver their courses with a learner centred approach despite the COVID-19 restrictions, and showcased collaboration in their community.

Samantha McCarthy and Michelle Nolan of Clare Local Development Company (CLDC) facilitated this weekly webinar. Their insightful presentation used SICAP funded case study examples to showcase how multiple agencies can come together to benefit a group of vulnerable, isolated individuals within a community.


The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2018 – 2022 provides funding to tackle poverty and social exclusion through local engagement and partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies. Administered by Pobal and funded by the Irish Government through the Department of Rural and Community Development, it also receives funding from the European Social Fund under the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020.


Would you like to learn more about SICAP? Click here for more information and to view video case studies.

CLDC’s presentation described how their SICAP funding supports new communities in Co Clare including refugees and asylum seekers. Specifically, CLDC described their Working life in Ireland programme which is delivered in collaboration with Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board. This remote programme (spanning 5 weeks) was aimed at supporting asylum seekers to prepare for work, covering the work permit process, employment rights and responsibilities, finding work in Ireland, the job markets in Ireland and workplace culture. Workshops included CV building, cover letter writing and interview skills.

The programme saw partnership and collaboration grow between CLDC, Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, Citizens Information, EmployAbility Clare, Clare Public Participation Network and the Clare Immigrant Support Centre.

“Yes I would recommend this course to everyone as it teaches us on how to become job ready and work in Ireland.”

- Programme participant

Samantha and Michelle shared positive reviews from programme participants and advised members on the challenges they encountered and subsequent recommendations they have for fellow members taking on board similar collaborative projects.


Michelle and Mary Cantwell from the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board collaborated on the Working Life in Ireland programme because they both have a common objective; to engage the migrant population in Clare. Mary highlighted her “Realising Potential Project” which is funded by the Asylum Migration Integration Fund (AMIF). This project addresses specific structural gaps hindering the migrant populations in Limerick and Clare from engaging with education and employment at the level required to enable progression. When describing the membership of the Partnership group put together to implement the project, it is clear the project has the expertise to tackle a multitude of structural issues (eg mental health, literacy needs, employment opportunities) through wraparound supports.

Adult and Community Education to Promote Social Inclusion

CLDC’s presentation highlighted the important role adult and community education organisations play in promoting social inclusion for populations throughout Ireland including individuals living in Direct Provision. CLDC’s experience in rolling out this programme further underscored the resilience and innovation AONTAS members have displayed when responding to the COVID-19 restrictions, adapting to work remotely and continue serving local community needs.

For More Information

AONTAS encourages any member who missed this webinar, who might have additional feedback or who is interested in learning more about SICAP to get in touch. If you missed this webinar and would like to access a copy of the presentation, please email AONTAS Communications and Membership Officer, Barry Dolan, at:  Look out for future webinars on our events page. Also discussed at the webinar were the guidelines for re-opening. What are members’ experience of the COVID-19 compliance measures? If you have any issues or queries in relation to reopening, please contact AONTAS Head of Advocacy, Dearbháil Lawless at: